Do you like mango? The sweet tropical fruit with fragrant aroma is indeed one of the most favored fruits. In some tropical areas, mango has been an icon of warm weather and smiles. But don’t you know that mango can do something more than just that?
Mango is now not only considered as fruit, but also material for clothing and accessories. Wait, did we just mention that we now have the possibility to wear ‘mango’? Yes, mangoes are starting to infiltrate the fashion world.
You may be surprised to hear that, but actually this is not something new for the fashion world, especially for those who always follow the development of green fashion materials. Believe it or not, mango is going to replace leather somewhere in the future.
A bold innovation, right? That’s why, we are going to talk about the mango leather in this article, and how it can change the future of fashion.
The ‘Mango’ Duo
The fashion project that we are talking about is an innovation brought out by London-based sustainable brand called Luxtra. The brand is planning to hard launch vegan leather handbags which are free from any animal traces.
And as we have mentioned above, the main ingredient of the vegan leather is mango. This project is the brain child of Hugo De Boon and Koen Meerkerk, the founder of FruitLeather Rotterdam who have teamed up with Luxtra.
The duo first founded FruitLeather as school project at Willem de Kooning Academy. The reason for this was apparently their concern to the amount of food waste that people in the campus produced every single day.
“We saw how the square would be completely littered with food waste [at the end of the day], so…we realized this was a problem we would want to solve from a designer’s point of view,” De Boon told reporter in an interview.
By working together with the FruitLeather duo, Luxtra now becomes the first brand in United Kingdom to launch a fashion product made of mango. It is not the first time they worked together though, because they have worked in creating Piñatex, a vegan leather made from pineapples, and Frumat, a vegan leather made from apples.
Now, the next question should be: why does it have to be mango, not any other fruit? There is a funny story behind this decision to use mango. The mangoes used for its prototype were from unsellable stock of a produce importer.
Because the produce importer had no choice how to dispose of the fruits in an eco-friendly way, and that was when Luxtra and FruitLeather came. Even funnier, the time they came was after their almost desperate attempts to use other fruits like watermelon to create the green leather.
In addition to that in at least the near future, FruitLeather is most likely will not find it hard to get the main ingredient of their ‘leather: mango. Netherlands is on of the largest importer of mangoes because they cannot grow it on their own while the demand for it is high in the country.
And sometimes the demand for mangoes results in some of them being left uneaten. There are several reasons why sometimes the mangoes are uneaten such as being rotten in the distribution process, the presence of pests, or just as simple as deformation or bad physical appearance.
FruitLeather hunts for around 1500 unsellable mangoes each week and de-seed all of them before processing further. Afterward, to create mango leather, the de-seeded pulp is mixed with special additives that will make the pulp harder. It is that simple to solve the food waste problem.
Our Current Leather Industry
The innovation is not only a proof that solving our food waste problem can be that simple. But it also provides solution to our current cruel leather industry that not only energy and resources intensive but also hazardous.
Starting from raising the animal itself, it requires a lot of energy and resources such as water, pastureland, fossil fuel, and don’t forget about their food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that pollutants come from livestock farming is the country’s main threat in waterways.
This is the reason why we should not easily believe the ‘eco-friendly’ labels put on our leather products by the producers. While the farming process is already energy and resources intensive, turning their skin into leather is an even more consuming process.
According to PETA, the process often includes chemicals such as formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based. Let alone when the process includes chrome-tanning which will produce waste that contain chromium.
Cancer is one of the biggest threats that lurk beneath leather industry, because like mentioned above it includes a lot of different chemicals. Should we also talk about the runoff of such industry? Maybe it’s better off if you search for it by yourself.
Avoiding Fast Fashion
According to research from Threadllp, covid lockdowns has made about 43% consumers care more about the quality of clothingn than before the pandemic. And, the dislike rate for clothing waste has increased by over 50%. So, during this time, more people want to prolong their items.
In a statement, Whering founder Bianca Rangecroft said, “We consume five times as much as we did in 2000 and use things 40 percent less. A big part of Whering’s mission is to help people buy less and wear more – and with that comes garment care as the best way to ensure long-lasting wardrobes that we love.”
“Our users are redefining what it means to care for people and the planet – a green closet places extensive emphasis on looking after what you own; think repurposing, upcycling,” Rangercroft continued.
“For us, this is about creating a culture of caring for our clothes, by empowering our users to extend the life cycle of the garments they already own. A digital wardrobe opens up unlimited possibilities to integrate sustainable caring solutions that come straight to your door.”
Fast fashion is actually the real enemy that we want to defeat right now. But it needs all of our willingness to show some fight against it.